Happy New Year! Let’s talk about Lean. Let’s talk about Kaizen and continuous improvement and how to get better in 2015.
You’re possibly thinking, “Hey, Mark, chill… watch some football… relax… it’s a holiday.” But, you’re reading this, so you must be as excited about the new year as I am.
The start of a new calendar year is a rather arbitrary point in time. Why do we so often thing that things are going to be different this year?
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
We need to do different things if we want different results. We all do, myself included. It’s a time to reflect on last year, as if we’re doing a “strategy A3” — what worked well last year, what didn’t? Did we get the results we expected? If not, why?
Maybe we need to do more “root cause problem solving” before we jump to resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are basically a bunch of solution statements and countermeasures. Maybe we should ask, “What problems are we solving?”
Some Common Lean Resolutions
One idea I have for a resolution is to stop using my iPhone while walking (such as airports, parking lots, etc.). What problems am I solving? I’m not being as “present” as I might be. I risk tripping or falling or walking in front of a car. I don’t need to be as anxious — the email or tweet will still be there. My resolution might be a good countermeasure to a problem (or risks… since I didn’t trip and fall or walk in front of a car in 2014).
I’m curious to hear your resolutions (or problems to solve) for 2015 (please leave a comment on this post… you don’t have to use your full name or real name).
If we were talking about Kaizen, I’d guess this list of resolutions for people might include things like:
Get out of the office and spend more time with customers, patients, employees at the gemba
Be better about asking employees for their ideas
Reward people for pointing out problems instead of labeling them complainers
Be better about helping people take quick action to test ideas
Don’t give people answers or solutions
Don’t take control of improvements, when I could delegate
Remember to recognize people and celebrate every improvement, no matter how small.
Be better about sharing and spreading good ideas
Will They Stick?
It’s easy to make resolutions. It’s harder to follow through consistently. For all of the talk of “sustaining” improvements in the Lean community, are we any better about sustaining our own personal resolutions? Maybe we have a better chance if we are deeply committed to solving the PROBLEM that the resolution is meant to address.
Will people still be in the gym come February?
The Wall St. Journal an article recently on this topic: “What’s the Best Way to Make a Resolution Stick?” I hope you are able to read it without a subscription. Maybe clicking through via social media will help.
Why do 41% of people fail to keep their resolutions? I’m surprised that number is so low.
Judith Beck, Ph.D., the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Philadelphia and a clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, explains:
New Year’s resolutions tend to encompass big commitments that people have put off. “Usually these are things that are difficult to do, otherwise we would have done them already.”
If someone says, “I want to go to Gemba more this year,” maybe they should ask and reflect on why that hasn’t happened yet. They probably have known about this concept for a while… so why take action now? What will be different? Is increased desire enough? Do we kid ourselves that we now have the desire?
“There is some research to show that people who start trying to lose weight because they’ve had a medical scare are more successful than people who do it for another reason,” explains Dr. Beck. In other words, “Often the resolution will stick if the stakes are very high.”
If the stakes are high… wanting to lose weight is different than NEEDING to. I think that comes back to the Lean notion of having a meaningful problem to solve.
Many of the problems in healthcare are NEED to solve issues, MUST solve issues — like the continuing crisis around patient safety, where one in ten patients are harmed while being cared for. This problem was there last year… and it, generally, wasn’t solved. What’s going to be different in 2015?
I think the Kaizen approach… starting with small steps… as described so well by Prof. Bob Maurer can be so powerful. Instead of setting a really large goal, such as “I’m going to exercise an hour every day” or “I’m going to lose 25 pounds,” start with a small goal. Start small, make progress, keep upping your exercise.
When you do put on those gym clothes, she adds, you need to congratulate yourself. “Constant affirmation is essential to success,” says Dr. Beck.
That first time you go to the Gemba, congratulate yourself. The first time you catch yourself asking questions and guiding employees instead of giving them answers, congratulate yourself. Take note. Pat yourself on the back.
Then keep going.
I hope 2015 is a year of great personal development and success for all of us who are here. Thanks for being a part of my blog community. Don’t forget to fill out my reader survey to have a chance to win a free book.
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As I reach the 10th anniversary of my blog, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read my thoughts here, and for sharing your own.
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